This charming corner of a city garden in San Francisco, located behind a Victorian house, is evidence of what thoughtful planning can achieve.
At this time of year, when leisure is sometimes made imperative by the weather, a garden’s importance, and full meaning come sharply into focus.
Your garden and mine can and should be considered an important home room. Not just another room — a spare room — a place to be prettied up for a few months of the year. Rather our gardens should have appeal and interest in the changing seasons.
But how do we accomplish all this?
Pleasant and Well Designed Gardens
One way, and a pleasant one at that, is to look at pictures of well-designed gardens and then let your imagination run loose as you glance around your place.
If there is any truth in the old Chinese proverb that one picture is worth ten thousand words, then Thomas Church’s hook “Gardens Are For People” is the equivalent of a whole stack of books.
This volume with over 600 illustrations, including seventeen in color, is a veritable sourcebook of inspiration for home gardeners who want to develop their grounds to the utmost.
Integrating The House And Garden
The idea of integrating the house and garden for indoor-outdoor living is not new, as Mr. Church states:
Egyptian Style Garden
“The Egyptians planned their houses and gardens together. The Romans knew all about it, and the Greeks had a word for it; the Renaissance Italians developed it into line art. They had outside living rooms, dining rooms, corridors, and entrance halls.
They borrowed lines and materials from the house, and they borrowed foliage, shade, fruit, flowers, and the play of water from nature.
It was a subtle compromise. The struggle of forces — the light touch of Nature and the heavy hand of man — left no trace of incongruity.
The garden was a transitional stage saving them from the embarrassment of stepping from their house to nature in the raw.
Chinese Style Garden
“The Chinese style laid its delicate hand on all the arts in the 18th century. It influenced the English school of landscape gardening and sent them all scurrying back to Nature for inspiration.
The waving line was proclaimed a true line of beauty, forgetting that a straight line is the best foil for the graceful curves in flowers and plants.
Trim Tudor Gardens
“Nature was out-natured. Faked dead trees and crumbling ruins were added to heighten the effect of natural decay. Lancelot (“Capability”) Brown constructed a river across an estate that he considered so beautiful that he cried, “Alas!
The Thames will never forgive me!” Terraces were plowed under, and the incomparable Elizabethan flower gardens were discovered to be unnatural.
Trim Tudor gardens with their borders of “sweet-smelling herbs” were out of style, and many of them were destroyed before the wave had spent its strength.”
“Humphrey Repton followed a few years later, gathered up the pieces, and, putting them together in a logical order, made nature a full partner in the humanized landscape.
But the generations of smaller homeowners in the next century, who attempted to recreate these natural scenes on their small plots of ground, were misled. Nature is not easily transplanted to one’s backyard.”
18th Century Rediscovery
“This 18th-century rediscovery of nature in the garden and the 19th-century vulgar adaptation of its principles became our immediate heritage. Naturalness, as a state of mind, is highly desirable, but blindly following the frank conventions of “informal” gardening does not guarantee you’ll get it.
We’re all different, and our gardens and what we expect our land to do for us will vary as much as our demands and our personalities. No one can design intelligently for you unless he knows what you need, wants, and are like. If you don’t tell, he will have to guess.”
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